Clinical Teaching: Feedback and Evaluation

Course Author(s): Harold A. Henson, RDH, PhD


Clinical Teaching Feedback and Evaluation

The Goals of Clinical Feedback

We have clinical feedback and summative feedback. As students progress towards achievement of the course objectives, it is always important to provide ongoing feedback throughout the clinical teaching process.

Definition of Feedback

A process by which a teacher provides a learner with the results of an evaluation with the purpose of improving the learner’s performance.

Types of Feedback

Two major types of feedback. The first one is formative feedback. It’s a process of ongoing feedback on performance. For example, using the think-pair-share method the instructor asks a question and then students are then placed in pairs to discuss their responses.

The second type of feedback is summative feedback. It is the process of identifying larger patterns and trends in performance. For example, assigning a clinical portfolio as a semester project. This would provide an overall performance of the student’s clinical progression. So the main purpose of feedback is to change a behavior.

How to Give Feedback

Remember timing is everything. Have a plan on providing feedback. Ask the learner for their assessment first. Be specific. Focus on behaviors and remember to focus on one or two major points during that clinical session.

Opportunities for Feedback

Every teaching moment is an opportunity to provide feedback. Provide feedback privately between the learning and the faculty. When feedback is given during patient contact, then provide it constructively.

Assessment vs. Evaluation

So assessment is ongoing, is positive, individualized and provides feedback. Evaluation provides closure, is judgmental and is applied against standards and shows shortfalls. Both require criteria which are used to measure and are evidence-driven.

Definition of evaluation is any process by which a teacher assesses a learner’s knowledge, skills or attitudes on criteria related to educational goals.

The Evaluation Process

Assessment of the learner’s knowledge, attitude and skills, a high-stakes process since both the patient’s safety and the student’s achievement are involved. Expertise in clinical evaluation is seen by students as a characteristic of an effective clinical instructor.

The evaluation process can be very challenging. Students need to develop understanding of the information, develop particular competencies, demonstrate critical thinking, decision-making, clinical judgment and technical skills.

Formative Assessment

Defined as the process used by teachers and students to recognize and respond to student learning in order to enhance that learning during the learning. How close is the student to meeting the objectives for the course? Which objective has the student already mastered? Which objectives are still unmet? What are the student’s strengths and challenges? What does a student need to do better?

Summative assessment refers to the formal assessment of the learning and summarizes development of learners at a particular time such as the end of the semester. Did the students meet all of the objectives of the experience? Does the student demonstrate the competencies expected at the end of this semester? Is the student ready to move on? So these are questions you must ask yourself when you’re teaching in the clinic.

Personal growth objectives are objectives designed to assist students on how to achieve skills they need to master and develop their skills and reflective practice.

So in personal growth objectives some questions to ask: What did you need to know about the patient care in this session? What interests you most about these patients? What kinds of patient care experiences did you struggle with during your last rotation? What did you find difficult to do in patient care? What did you find the easiest? So asking these types of questions you can facilitate that conversation with your clinical learner.

Planning the Evaluation

Make sure you map it out. Make sure you start early. Plan each day. And assist students in creating personal objectives for growth.

Documenting a Student’s Progress

Document the situation. Document who, what, when, where and how. Document outcomes and resolutions.

Additional Considerations

  1. Confusing personality with behaviors
  2. Focusing on negatives without giving positives
  3. Waiting too long before giving feedback
  4. Giving feedback in an inappropriate setting or not giving any feedback and sending in an evaluation

All these are considerations when providing feedback to your students. So as a recap, meaningful student self-evaluation, make time for feedback and resources for the struggling student. And above all, document, document, document. Take time to provide detailed notes of the evaluation process for the Student Evaluation and Promotion Committee.

[End of Audio]